(A/N:  That was such an unfair episode!  Totally wrong!  I am fixing it, since no one seems like they're going to.  Here is what happened the night after the night Ed decided he was done.  R/R/E!)

            Carol sat on her bed, clutching a pillow to her chest.  She rested her chin on top of it.  Her eyes were red and puffy from crying.  Ed was done.  No more stupid stunts to win her heart, even though he had held it for so long it was ridiculous.  She was mad at Dennis, and she had used Ed as the first available target, and she had let all of those hateful words spill out.  And Ed had been right.  Everything he said was right.  But he was Ed!  He never quit!  Why now, when she needed him, and his romantic gestures, so badly?  A fresh torrent of tears poured down her face.

            The doorbell rang.  Who could it be coming to her house at this hour of the night?  On any other night, any other previous night, she would have thought it to be Ed, coming to try and cheer her up.  She considered ignoring it, but something in her wouldn't let her.  Something told her that this was important, and she would only get one chance.  Even though she knew it wasn't Ed, she went down anyway.

            "Hold on a moment!" she yelled, as she splashed some cold water on her face and looked in the mirror.  She looked like shit, no doubt about it.  But she went to the door anyway.  Maybe it was Molly, coming to try to do the job that generally fell to Ed.  Opening the door as much as the chain would allow, she looked out.  Her heart skipped a beat, or six or seven.  It was Ed.


            Ed had come to collect some of his things that were left at Carol's house.  When he had said he was done, he had meant it.  He was completely done with everything - including their friendship.  Cut the look on Carol's face when she opened the door melted his heart.  She looked utterly miserable, and it made him want to do something to make her smile.  He still loved her, that wasn't something he could turn off, but he was done fighting for her.

            "I need to amend that statement.  Can I come in?"  He didn't know where that had come from.  It wasn't what he meant to say at all (which had run somewhere along the lines of 'I want all my stuff back'), but it would do.

            Carol took off the chain and let him in.  Then she backed away from him, watching him, as she cupped her elbows in her hands.  She did not speak, but waited for him.

            To Ed, it was quite obvious that she had been crying.  He took a step forward, he didn't know why, and she didn't move.  But her eyes widened.  Something flickered through them.  Fear, perhaps?

            "I need to fix that statement."  He took it for granted that she would know what he was talking about, which she did.  "I'm done, unless-" he paused as Carol moved her eyes away from him to the floor, looking away.  "Unless you're done.  Stop running.  Stop denying what you feel.  Or I'm done.  With everything."

            Carol didn't believe him, and she couldn't look at him while he lied to her. He was done, no matter what.  She had heard the utter finality in his voice in the bowling alley.  What could she do to make up for what she had said, anyway?  For what she had been doing to him since he came back?  Ed was right.  She always picked out rotten men to date.  He deserved someone better than her.  She was not worthy of the attention he lavished upon her.

            She felt Ed move closer, move right up to her.  "Look at me, Carol."  Major déjà vu.  No way she was going through with this again.  But she couldn't make herself move away from him.

            He reached out and caressed her cheek, tilting her head up so her tear-filled eyes met his clear blue ones.

            "You've got one more chance, Carol.  What's your choice?"

            Ed dropped his hand and stepped away.  As tears trickled down her cheeks, he wondered where he got the strength to do this to her.

            Carol searched his face for any lie.  "All right," she said softly.  "You win.  I give up.  Please…"

            Ed stepped back to her, but didn't allow himself to smile yet.  He took her face in his hands.  "Are you sure?"

            She nodded slowly, eyes fixed on his.  It was like they had a power to hold her, and she couldn't look away as she slowly drowned in their depths.

            Ed finally allowed himself to wipe the tears off her face with his thumbs.  She hesitantly reached up to put a hand on each of his cheeks.  When he didn't pull away, she began to draw his head down as he tilted hers up.  Their lips met in a sweet kiss.  Finally, after so many years of wanting and denial, they were in heaven.